French President Francois Hollande is surrounded by well-wishers on his short visit to Timbuktu, Mali, on Saturday.
Credit Jerome Delay / AP
The security situation in Northern Mali has improved with the arrival of the French military last month, so French president Francois Hollande traveled there Saturday for a one-day visit. He didn't stay in the southern capital, Bamako, which has remained under Malian government control, but instead flew north to the ancient city of Timbuktu to meet residents and thank French troops for their work in ousting Islamist rebels from the historic city.
Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 5:35 pm
A man attempts to salvage burnt manuscripts at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu, Mali, on Tuesday. While some of the ancient manuscripts were destroyed by Islamist radicals, reports indicate that most were hidden and therefore survived.
Credit Eric Feferberg / AFP/Getty Images
Reports from Timbuktu, Mali, on Wednesday indicate that most of the ancient manuscripts at a famed library may have been saved by residents before Islamist radicals had the chance to burn them.
"I can say that the vast majority of the collections appear from our reports not to have been destroyed, damaged or harmed in any way," Shamil Jeppie, an expert on the documents who teaches at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, told Reuters.
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
The city of Timbuktu is free...
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Mali, Mali, Mali, Mali...
INSKEEP: ...and residents cheered as French and Malian forces entered the city. Those forces swept aside Islamist rebels who'd controlled the place for months. The Islamists rule included amputations and the destroyed ancient tombs. It ended with the burning of a library housing priceless manuscripts.